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Cat Balaq: a poem

Stealing Sunday Dinner We tell each other stories in a shallow bath, pour them out hot from the tap, let them lap around our knees, smoke a roll up each. Flick ash in a scallop shell. Lean into cold cast iron. Tiles chipped; mold in the corners. Candle nubs propped on the tray between us, bubbles slopping the skin beneath your breasts. The light of the day half dying. Last night's dishes suddless in the sink and the chicken you stole from the shop over the road, uncooked. You wore my black overcoat. It overwhelmed your tiny frame. The pockets long enough to hold truncheons or jars of cranberry sauce. I am overcome with the imperfect moment; too afraid to tell you how real it feels. Your back arching over; the grope for the soap; the stories we tell each other. Later we slip pilfered potatoes into hot oil with salt, allowing our lips to meet. You sit on the counter to reach me as I take the words from your mouth.

Cat Balaq is a poet, arts educator and body psychotherapist from Bath. She has been published in Magical Women Artists Magazine and Nymphs and Thugs showcase. A Paper Nations commission holder, she is working on her first poetry collection, Featherless. Her play in verse, Fuck the Moon, was shortlisted for the Bristol Old Vic Open Sessions 2019 and several pieces were produced for BBC Radio Bristol. She is a finalist of the Lyra Poetry Festival 2021, and writer in residence at the Somerset Coalfield Archive.

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